I know that the slow work of God about which Teilhard de Chardin wrote so eloquently really refers to the activity of grace or the glacier-like pace of evolution and human development. But if he had to extricate himself out of my office after 10 years of congregational leadership I’m pretty sure he’d include that in the lexicon of things that constitute the slow work of God. I know I do.
The campus minister of a Catholic women’s college invited me to speak in April to a group of students. He explained that young women are leaving the church in large numbers, and the campus ministry staff hears students question why women should remain part of this institution. He asked me to speak to why the Catholic Church needs women, and why women need the Catholic Church.
We need to find the Samaritans. They are all around us, anchored in a faith that brings them into communion with God’s most vulnerable people. I have been blessed with meeting some of them recently. Always intrigued by their witness, I cannot help asking “why” -- why do you feel compelled to be here? And their answer is always the same: these are human beings. They remind me that our call as apostolic women religious -- responding to critical human need -- is the heart of who we are.
“If we think seriously about our unfinished cosmos.. . .we shall have to entertain new thoughts about everything, about who we are and where we are going, and about the meaning of our lives.” -- John Haught, The New Cosmic Story, Inside Our Awakening Universe
Each issue of Update now includes “emerging questions” designed to engage us in reflection about religious life, leadership, and the signs of the times. One of the questions the Contemporary Religious Life Committee gave us in the October issue asked, “Where has love led me/us?” I found this question particularly intriguing. The call to religious life is a call to love, and the call to leadership is a call to love in a particular context. Where has our response to the call to love led us? And where is it leading us?
Amid the chaos of over-the-top optimism and dire prophecies in the aftermath of the November elections a single question keeps nagging at me. Everywhere we read about the need for contemplation, stillness, presence, silence, as well as alarming predictions regarding the new presidency. Amid these two “horns” it seems to me that our dilemma lies in the realm of moral agency. What, exactly, is moral agency in this cacophony of opinions?
“Love is the most durable power in the world. This creative force, so beautifully exemplified in the life of our Christ is the most potent instrument available to mankind’s (sic) quest for peace and security.” -- M. L. King, Jr.
Our 2016 assembly theme: Transformation and Mystery! We get the idea. Our lives will never be the same again. We are in the midst of a transformation from the known to the unknown. In his address to the Canadian Religious Conference in May of this year, theologian Simon Pierre Arnold, wove his thoughts about religious life around a theme that he called the “era of the butterfly,” the title of his latest book.
As I write, our country awaits, in anticipation or trepidation, the national conventions of our two major political parties. As you read, those events may be ended or in process, naming key players for the next months in US politics.